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Steps For Improving Your Fishing Boat

With a limited amount of money to sink into your rig, here's a plan to make your old boat feel like new.


I've driven bass boats capable of 90-plus mph. As often as not, they had little in the way of fishability. I've driven other rigs that had poor performance, but were stable as a barge when we stopped to fish.




Boat-and-motor packages are often sold with a lower horsepower engine to keep the price down. Upgrading to a larger engine is a great way to improve your rig. –ª Photo courtesy of Yamaha Motor.

Somewhere between the extremes is the ideal bass boat for you: A boat that obtains the best performance -- not necessarily the top speed -- and the fishability to suit your fishing style.

Often you can attain this by adding to, or upgrading, elements on your existing boat. Of course, some performance elements of a boat can't be changed -- the size and shape of the hull for instance, as well as the horsepower rating. But note that boat packages are often sold with a lower horsepower engine to keep the price down. Upgrading to a larger engine is often the first step to improving your package. Other elements can also be changed to provide better performance.

PROPS

Several years ago I tested a "hot" new bass boat with David Greenwood of Suzuki. He had a trunk full of new propellors, and we spent hours changing out props and moving the engine up and down on the jackplate -- sometimes as little as 1/16 of an inch at a time. We finally achieved the right prop and engine-height combination that provided the best possible lift, hole shot, acceleration and speed. Not only was the boat fast, but you could drive it with your fingertips -- one of the most important aspects of performance in my opinion.

A wide range of props are available, and this is where you'll need the help of a pro. Your local dealer or prop shop can help you put together the right mix. Don't make the mistake many anglers do: They prop the boat before it's set-up to fish. Instead, fill the fuel tank, put two people in the boat, and load all your tackle and gear aboard. You'll get a realistic feel of its performance.

JACKPLATES

The next step is proper engine height. Most dealers and boat riggers have a set formula for engine height with different engines and boat hulls. But again, even a little adjustment can make a big performance difference.

A jackplate not only simplifies finessing engine height, but hydraulic jackplates can also be used as a running performance enhancer.

When a boat is underway, the hull actually pushes water down. And when the water comes out from under the hull, it has a lot of air and foam. The setback of the jackplate positions the engine farther back and away from the majority of the foam.

READ: Side Scan Fishing Technology Explained

SIDE-IMAGING SONAR

If you're serious about bass fishing, my advice is to buy the best electronics you can afford. Side-imaging sonars, such as the Humminbird units or Lowrance's StructureScan add-on to their HDS units, provide a whole new "look" at bass fishing. And now Lowrance's new Down Imaging technology adds even more. The new technology provides an instant "snapshot" directly below the boat.

TROLLING MOTOR

Upgrading to a wireless, GPS-controlled trolling motor can also make your fishing easier. Both Motor Guide and Minn Kota have units with these features. The technology, such as Minn Kota's i-Pilot, utilizes GPS positioning to allow you to record a track and then simply push a button to automatically fish along the track. And you can also use their spot-lock feature that works like an electronic anchor.

ON-BOARD CHARGER

Many higher-end bass boats come with on-board chargers. More economically priced boats frequently do not, but this is one product that can save a lot of hassles and time. Units, such as the ProMariner XPS models from Bass Pro, utilize Transfer-On-Demand technology to maintain engine cranking battery while maximizing available charging amps to meet the demands of trolling motor batteries.

READ: Pro Tips For Maintaining Your Fishing Gear

SHALLOW-WATER ANCHORS

The Power-Pole Shallow Water Anchor is basically an electronically controlled hydraulic anchor. It mounts on the transom of the boat and deploys in under 5 seconds. It allows you to stop your boat quickly and quietly with a touch of a button, and position the boat immediately where you want to make your cast.

Upgrades as well as add-ons can make your bass boat more efficient, safer, easier to drive and more pleasurable to fish.

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